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USA 2012
Directed by
David O. Russell
117 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Silver Linings Playbook

Synopsis:  Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has just gotten out of a mental hospital after eight months and returns home under the care of his mother and father (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). He’s optimistic and is ready to put his marriage back together again. Then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and the best laid plans, as they say, go awry.

I’ve seen the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook many times and each time have been mystified by what could possibly earn what looks to be a well-crafted standard issue rom-com eight Oscar nominations.  I figured that somewhere beyond the frame must lie a tour-de-force performance or mind-blowing insight into the human condition. Now that I’ve seen the movie I am none the wiser. This is going up against Lincoln as Best Picture? Give me a break! Maybe if they gave out a tab of LSD with every ticket. David O. Russell as best director? If it was his previous film, The Fighter, I’d say why not but this isn’t even Russell’s best film let alone even approaching the calibre of the work of his fellow contenders. Someone surely has been cooking the books.

Disappointments aside, Silver Linings Playbook is a well-crafted standard issue rom-com, a nifty date movie but that’s as far as it goes. Cooper’s character has bi-polar disorder and has a restraining order on him from his estranged wife whilst Lawrence's is recovering from depression after the death of her husband of three years and sleeps around a lot. Such ingredients you might think are going to take you into some darker areas than are usual for a rom-com but they're dished up with not just surprising blitheness but topped with an over-sweet sauce – Tiffany wants Pat to partner her in a ballroom dance competition.

The film goes round and round (literally but also like a record) in ever tightening circles as Pat, his parents and Tiffany move closer to the inevitable resolution. The Ocar-nominated script  progressively loses sight of his disorder or her grief and the pair end up pretty much the same as any rom-com couple with the camera doing a 360 degree as they embrace fervently. Love is all you need, of course. The cast are all fine as far as the script goes, although I can’t see why Jacki Weaver is up for a Best Supporting Actress (or whatever) Oscar unless it is for doing nothing but standing around and contorting her face into expressions of concern. And Bradley Cooper to Daniel Day-Lewis is a fizzy drink to Dom Perignon whilst Lawrence...well, I just don't get it. Her token grieving is supposed to be on the same level as Naomi Watt's imagined fears in The Impossible or Emmanuelle Riva's dying wife in Amour? De Niro is fine but this is a walk around the block for him.

There’s really no reason to see this at the cinema, if at all, other than aforesaid date night. If you're curious, wait until it comes out on DVD. In the meantime if you want to see an inventive and credible rom-com about a couple of messed-up characters go and rent Jason Reitman’s Young Adult.




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